Pinochet’s Victims Fight for Justice over Dictatorship Abuses
Leopoldo Garcia Lucero, a torture survivor of the Pinochet dictatorship, will know in a month whether or not the Chilean justice system is going to fulfill its reparation duty.
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA — The 79-year-old man is just one example among hundreds of thousands of victims who suffered from the brutality of the Pinochet military regime and who now ask for justice.
Fervent socialist and close friend of Salvador Allende – who nicknamed him “Fillistoque” – Leopoldo Garcia Lucero was arrested on September 16, 1973, just five days after the coup. Military officers took him to a detention center and attempted to wrest information about socialist senators’ hiding places from him.
The violence he had to endure included repeated kicks in the testicles and cigarette burns.
Smashed with a rifle, his left arm was broken; he has never regained full feeling in his hand. He walks with a walking stick, has spine damage, cognitive problems and a huge disfiguring scar on his forehead, above his left eye, where a police officer hit his face with the stock of a gun.
“I feel like I’m dead in life,” he told The Guardian.
“They said they would kill me but first they would bring my six-year-old daughter, put her in front of the concrete bags, and shoot her,” he added.
After being moved to a series of concentration camps, he was finally one of the first convicts to be deported. From 1975, more than 200,000 of Pinochet’s opponents were expelled from Chile.
In 2002, Garcia Lucero called on the help of Redress, an NGO that submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, arguing that the dictatorship victim’s rights had been violated.
His case has been brought to the Court in Medellin, Colombia, on March 20 and 21 and is now under discussion.
Although the Chilean state considers its obligation fulfilled through a compensation system providing around CL$100,000 per month to the victims of human rights violations, Garcia Lucero’s lawyers ask for CL$8- to 10-million for “moral damages”.
“We have asked the state to investigate his torture. This case is not about money but about treating a victim fairly who has a right to reparations,” said lawyer Clara Sandoval.
Despite a few attempts to investigate atrocities committed during the dictatorship, the now democratic government of Chile has never prosecuted anybody for these abuses, according to Redress representatives.